Boy toys – Fast and Furious 5 review

Fast and Furious 5 – Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson. Directed by Justin Lin. Rated M. Originally published April 23, 2011. By Simon Miraudo.

It’s not the sign of a particularly good film when the entire cast could be replaced by belligerent three-year-olds and you could expect most of the line readings to remain exactly the same. Fast and Furious 5 (or Fast Five, or Five 5ive, or For F&F’s Sake, or Ffffff) primarily consists of a bunch of boys standing around pouting, posturing, and like all good toddlers, obsessing over breasts like they still require them for sweet, nutritious milk. This metaphor is not weakened by the fact star Vin Diesel, at one point in the film, pronounces the word ‘Father’ as ‘Farthurghhh’. But the Fast and Furious saga has never been about emotional maturity, and certainly not enunciation. It’s about cars. Fast cars. Furious cars. 5ars. This film does few things well, but it does succeed in making you want to feel the wind whip through your hair and your gut lurch as you power past 160km/hour in a Dodge Charger (or in my case, a 2003 Holden Barina with a sun-damaged roof).

Even I, a vehicle-illiterate film geek whose entire body has less muscle definition than Dwayne Johnson’s left glute, occasionally feels the need for speed. But I must say I was perplexed and disappointed at how few car chase sequences were actually in this film; inexcusable considering its 130 minute runtime. What must the revheads think? Aside from a logic-defying but still rather awesome climactic race through the streets, director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan presume fans will be sated merely by the return of beloved actors from the previous instalments. They presumed wrongly.

The plot (no, seriously): Having freed gang leader Dom (Diesel) from a bus headed to prison, lovers Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) decide to keep their heads low in Rio de Janeiro – for about 10 seconds. The speedsters agree to help some locals boost a bunch of flashy cars (don’t ask me to name the specific makes) from a train, not realising that they contain something deeply valuable to corrupt local businessman Hernan (Joaquim de Almeida). When the dust settles following the heist, our (kinda) innocent trio discovers they have been framed for the murder of some American feds, and take-no-prisoners DSS Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is sent to Brazil to take them down. Dom, Brian and Mia decide to run one last job – ripping off Hernan to the sum of $100 million – so that they can finally be free from their sexy criminal lives. They call in favours from characters you may recognise from earlier films, or, if you’ve not seen the previous flicks, famous rappers.

Lin knows his way around an action sequence; it’s just a shame that Morgan doesn’t give him that many to work with. The few races and car chases we are treated to are absolutely joyless; no matter how outrageous a scenario they find themselves in, Brian and Dom never get nervous, or whoop in joy, or look at one another and mouth “Can you believe this ****?!” Perhaps their stoicism is meant to represent intense badassery. I remember seeing the first Fast and the Furious film when I was 13; my teenage friend describe the acting as “Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger-esque”. It remains the best description to this day. Lin has proven his comic chops and ability to work with rich characters on the TV show Community, but there’s no evidence of those talents here. The only subtle moments are shared between the endlessly competitive Diesel and Johnson; frankly, with all time they spend staring into one another’s eyes and homoerotically wrestling on the ground, I expected the film to end with the two adversaries kissing passionately. Hey, at least that would have been an arc.


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Fast and Furious 5 arrives on DVD and Blu-ray August 24, 2011.

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